The following sentence could sound pretty funny in September, but at this point the risk is unavoidable and worthwhile. The Giants’ best offensive players are Angel Pagan and Michael Morse. They were the two best hitters before they left for Atlanta, and both came through with home runs in a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Pagan, who missed 91 games last year and is playing with a slight tear in one of his patella tendons, greeted Mike Minor with a leadoff homer into the left field stands in Minor’s 2014 Major League debut.
It was Pagan’s second leadoff homer in his last two games (he rested on Wednesday), and his .337 batting average is seventh in the National League.
Morse is now slugging .611 (fifth in the NL) after hitting his seventh home run, a 375-foot fly ball to right that tied him with Brandon Belt for the team lead. Morse came close to homering off Minor in the first inning, but he didn’t hit it square and his fly ball was caught by Jason Heyward. Morse hit a single in his next at-bat, but he never forgot that almost-dinger in the first inning.
“The first at-bat, he threw me the same kind of pitch and I just missed it, hit it off the end a little bit,” Morse said. “I told myself if he throws it there again, I’m going to try to muscle it out.”
Morse is ridiculously strong, the kind of literal giant that seemed to be going the way of the dinosaur with ever-stricter drug testing. He works out with football players like Frank Gore, looks like a tight end and runs like a Molina. Tim Lincecum is built like a figure skater, and he happened to pitch his best game of the season.
Sprinkling six hits and three walks over six innings doesn’t sound all that impressive, but we’re officially grading Lincecum on the curve these days. Lincecum only gave up one run, the Braves didn’t have an extra-base hit all evening, and he struck out both Upton brothers in the same inning! Mission accomplished.
— Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in baseball, but every play Brandon Crawford made was superb. The recovery he made on Chris Johnson’s grounder in the first inning saved a run, the play he made on Simmons’ grounder was slick, and his diving stop and throw to get Evan Gattis in the ninth might have been the best play he’s made this season.
— The ninth inning was fascinating. B.J. Upton had a great two-out at-bat. Mike Krukow seemed to think a ball Upton hit just foul should’ve been called fair. Pablo Sandoval moved closer to the line, and Upton responded with a single between Sandoval and Crawford. Sergio Romo had an 0-2 count against Freddie Freeman before walking him in favor of facing Justin Upton. Upton the Better came into the at-bat with a 1-for-10 lifetime mark against Romo, but as the Giants closer worked away-away-away, it was clear that Upton was onto Romo’s plan (and he came THIS close to ending the game on a hanging slider that he fouled back). Then Romo froze him with a fastball on the inside corner to end the game.
— The bullpen’s ERA is officially under 2.00 (1.99 over 90 2/3 innings).
— Morse had two hits in four plate appearances and saw six pitches total.
— Fun with box scores: Sandoval went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Hector Sanchez went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Sandoval is hitting .180 and Sanchez is hitting .179.
— Gerald Laird is one of those guys where the name matches the body type.
— Colorado is first in the NL with 40 home runs as a team. The Giants are in second place with 36, putting them on pace for 201 this season. They hit 107 last year. I’d wonder if the balls were juiced, but both the Cardinals and Phillies only have 19 home runs.